Fantastic History #19: You Just Can’t Make This Stuff Up by K. Bird Lincoln

As a writer starting my first historical novel, I spent untold hours Googling obscure facts and combing through my old college textbooks about Japanese history for my medieval Japanese fantasy series, Tiger Lily. Fun facts like “at what year were cats introduced to Japan?” (Either during the Yayoi period around 200 B.C. or around 500 B.C. along with Buddhism from India via China like so much else in Japanese cultural history) and “when exactly did the Nanboku-cho period start when Japan split into a Northern and Southern Imperial Court?” (1336 A.D. when Ashikaga Takauji drove Emperor Go-Daigo from Kyoto).

The fantastic parts of Tiger Lily, like singing to nature spirit kami gods and shape-changing trickster foxes, took far less time in creation. Melding imagination with a basic mythological framework didn’t send me down any time-consuming rabbit holes. Don’t get me wrong, I love historical rabbit holes. I could live full-time down there if there were coffee and chocolate ?. But it’s slow work.

Beginning an Urban Fantasy series set in modern Portland seemed like a sensible way to spend less time in research and more time actually writing story. No Googling of Voodoo Donuts or the Washington Rose Garden necessary—I lived there for seven years. There I was, writing happily the story of a Portlandian Japanese-Caucasian college student unaware her father is a dream-eating baku, only taking short research detours down the fascinating paths of Pacific Northwest First Peoples’ languages and myths–such as Dzunukwa, the ogress, bringer of wealth that steals children to eat–and Dream Eater was completed in a timely fashion. Lesson learned. Research costs time and is nowhere near as lively as my own imagination. Or so I thought…

Dream Eater ended with my three main characters headed to Japan. At first I only needed short forays into Tokyo maps. Tokyo, Iwate, and Tochigi have all been my home for short periods of time. But then this memory bubbled up of my Tokyo boy husband’s uncle, born in an obscure village in Northern Aomori, telling me his surname, Herai, was a Japanization of the world “Hebrew” over yaki-niku one night many years ago just before he died.

I Googled “Hebrews in Japan.” That led me to the Takeuchi Documents (or Takeuchi Monjyo.) And that lead me to Jesus’ tomb. In Japan. Down the rabbit hole I went. Not just any rabbit hole of dates and wars and trade, no sir, but a fantastical rabbit hole where a secret Shinto document appearing in the early 1900’s tracing the lineage of kami back through the ages describes how Jesus came to Japan on a flying airship as a teenager, studied esoteric Shinto practices, went back to Galilee to teach. When threatened with death, left his brother to die on the cross while he escaped to Northern Japan where he lived to the ripe old age of 118. Women in this village supposedly kept their babies in woven baskets like Moses, and the very rare surname of “Herai”, like my uncle-in-law, was exclusively from this town, now called Shingo-mura.

And the pièce de résistance? Jesus’ Tomb and museum. Of course I had to use Jesus’ Tomb and the accompanying museum in my story. It was so fantastic, weirder by far than anything my imagination could meld to history. So in Black Pearl Dreaming, (the sequel to Dream Eater) the main characters head to Shingo-mura and encounter Jesus’ tomb. Of course, in my book the tomb is just a front for some far more nefarious dealings by the bad guys, but whether my rabbit hole journey uncovered an actual historical revelation or just a strange attempt to rewrite history, I’ll leave up to you. But, I couldn’t make up something like this. Just goes to show you, dig down deep enough in history and you’ll uncover things more fantastical and weird then ever imagined by an author.


K. Bird Lincoln is an ESL professional and writer living on the windswept Minnesota Prairie with family and a huge addiction to frou-frou coffee. Also dark chocolate– without which, the world is a howling void. Originally from Cleveland, she has spent more years living on the edges of the Pacific Ocean than in the Midwest. Her speculative short stories are published in various online & paper publications such as Strange Horizons. Her medieval Japanese fantasy series, Tiger Lily, is available from Amazon. World Weaver Press released Dream Eater, the first novel in an exciting, multi-cultural Urban Fantasy trilogy set in Portland and Japan, in 2017. She also writes tasty speculative fiction reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Check her out on Facebook, join her newsletter for chocolate and free stories, or stalk her online at her website.

October, 2018

Didn’t you notice November started a week ago, Catherine. What’s up with that?

I took a little extra time to post this because I wanted to be able to post this news: Abigail Rath Versus Mad Science finally has a viable draft that is off to my beta readers. Yeah. That feels pretty good.


October was an eventful month, even if you don’t take it from a fake 5-week long perspective. First off, there was Icon, which also meant the writers workshop I run every year. It was great to reconnect with friends and see what kinds of projects they’ve been working on. I tried out the first installment of my upcoming serial on them, and got some solid advice, and a good time was had by all.

In the middle of the month, I had the good fortune to attend the Surrey International Writers Conference, which was a wonderful educational experience. I met many fellow writers, agents, and publishers, and learned a lot. Plus I got to hang out with my good friend Chris Cornell and meet some wonderful Canadian writers I know from online forums I’m involved with. So…all around a great time, one I would highly recommend to anyone who’s ever thought of going. I found it very useful in rekindling my desire to write, and giving me some direction regarding my writing career.

Events were rounded out with a brief book fair at my local Barnes and Noble the first week of November. I do not have any events planned for the foreseeable future. In December, I am visiting Brazil in my capacity as an English professor for Kirkwood and teaching a class, so I doubt I will get much new work produced, but I do have some plans.

I joined the Horror Writers of America, so now I belong to that august organization, as well as the Science Fiction Writers of America.


This is the part of the update where I give you some ideas about my plans to take over the world my upcoming release/writing schedule. What’s going down?

November: The Pawn of Isis, after being turned down by Curiosity Quills, will be self-published. This month it is with my editor getting a thorough read. Also this month, Abigail Rath Versus Mad Science is being read by my good friends who do beta reading for me. This month I plan to practice self-publishing by curating, editing, and publishing a collection of short stories many friends have been asking me for. Look for the short story collection to be published in early December.

December: I will be soliciting a cover for The Pawn of Isis, and spreading the word about my short story collection. I look for this to be a low key month regarding writing, given the obligations of my other life.

January: This month, I will be doing the interiors for, getting out ARC copies to readers, and releasing The Pawn of Isis. There will be some publicity. I will also be working on revisions of Abigail Rath Versus Mad Science, preparing it for solicitation to agents.

February: I imagine I will be finishing up Abigail Rath Versus Mad Science. This month, I intend to start writing new material. It looks like Klaereon 3 will be entitled The Wrath of Horus, and I will also be working on the first installment of my serial The Poet and the Navigator, which takes place in the same world as the Klaereon Scroll series.


Idealistically, 2019 will see the publication of The Pawn of Isis, four installments of The Poet and the Navigator, and most, if not all the writing of The Wrath of Horus. No plan like this ever survives contact with real life, but it’s what I want.

See you at the beginning of December, mostly with information about the short story collection, and my upcoming foreign travel. Enjoy Thanksgiving. Eat lots and lots of turkey.

Fantastic History #18: Alice Payne Arrives by Kate Heartfield

Today is the book birthday of Alice Payne Arrives, which I’ve been holding onto my opinions about for a while now, except for the 5-star rating I left of it over on Goodreads. I do like Kate Heartfield’s work, and she had been a frequent contributor here at Fantastic History.

Let me just put this out there for the purists on the blog; this is not only history, okay? There is a fair amount of science fiction in the mode of time travel, so if you’re coming to this book looking solely for the ramblings and adventures of a female highway-person in 1788, you might look at the work askance. That said, Alice is an interesting character study in a woman who must carve out her destiny in a time ill-suited for her. Part Jamaican in England, gay, and seeking adventure, the life to which she has been born is not the life she wants to have, Ergo, Alice takes matters into her own hands.

Alice becomes entangled with time travelers, notably Prudence Zuniga, who is battling to save the world, over and over again. This interesting alchemy produces a novel that is part science fiction, party history, and part steampunk (if anyone really knows what that is). The novella feels dense and there are a lot of unanswered questions, but I believe the second Alice Payne novella may answer some of them.

If you are looking for a book that does some interesting things with history, but stretches it out, this is a good read for you.